GunsNo End in Sight for High Firearm Demand, License to Carry Applications

January 2021 set another record of background checks for gun purchases and License to Carry applications in Texas and across the country.
February 2, 2021
In November 2008, the same month that Barack Obama won his first presidential election, the number of firearm background checks shot past 1.5 million — then a new record and a 42 percent increase from the previous November.

Over the course of his administration, Obama was hailed by as “the greatest gun salesman in America.”

But the vice president under Obama who now sits in the Oval Office, President Joe Biden, may take that title from his former superior if the current trend continues.

Based on the data from National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting (SAAF) estimates that there were 2.2 million firearms unit sales in January 2021, a 79 percent increase from January 2020.

“January 2021 certainly started off with a sales ‘bang’ due to the turmoil surrounding the confirmation and inauguration of Mr. Biden as the new U.S. President,” said SAAF Chief Economist Jurgen Brauer.

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However, though gun sales are higher than a decade ago, Brauer notes that the spike seen in January has happened before.

“[A]n even higher increase, of just over 100 [percent], was experienced in January 2013, the month Mr. Obama’s second presidential term began,” said Brauer.

Though 2020 was a record-shattering year for gun sales and NICS checks for many reasons, January 2021 was another record-setting month with 4.3 million checks conducted across the country — a 62 percent increase from a year earlier.

Texas set a new record for the month of January at 212,000 checks, up 3 percent from December and 65 percent from January 2020, and is the highest number recorded since June.

More specific data show that during the past month in Texas:

  • 84,000 checks were for purchases of handguns, up five percent from December and 56 percent from the year before;
  • 59,000 checks were License to Carry applications, the highest ever for a single month in Texas, a 20 percent increase from December, and a 98 percent increase from last year;
  • And 47,000 checks were for long gun purchases, a decline of 20 percent from December but an increase of 62 percent from last year.

Similar statistics were seen at the national level:

  • 624,000 checks were for new carry permits, up 14 percent from December and 47 percent from January 2020;
  • 1.6 million checks were for permit rechecks in states like Kentucky and Indiana, which require frequent background checks for active holders of carry permits;
  • 1.1 million checks were for handgun purchases, up 16 percent from December and 75 percent from last year;
  • And 713,000 checks were for long gun purchases, down seven percent from December but up 88 percent from a year ago.

At the federal level, Biden vowed to pursue a long list of gun control measures, with many requiring passage through the narrowly-Democratic House of Representatives and the even more narrowly-Democratic Senate.

Some of Biden’s proposed measures, such as a ban on the import of “assault weapons,” he says could be enacted via executive order, but the president has not yet taken that action.

In the ongoing state legislative session, where Republicans control both the upper and lower chambers, several pro-Second Amendment bills have been introduced, ranging from constitutional carry to prohibiting the enforcement of federal gun control measures that are not in state law.

Such legislation has been proposed before, but never mustered enough support to pass through the House and Senate.

Texas Democrats have also introduced various pieces of gun control legislation, which some Republicans have previously indicated support for, but advocates of the most wide-sweeping gun control bills will face an uphill battle.


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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is the Marketing and Media Manager for The Texan. After graduating with a double-major in Political Science and Humanities, he wrote for The Texan as a reporter through June 2022. In his spare time, you're likely to find him working on The Testimony of Calvin Lewis, an Abolition of Man-inspired novel and theatrical podcast.

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